'The country's in wonderful hands'

Editor’s note: This is the fourth and final of a series of profiles of the Boys Nation 2016 officers. Boys Nation 2017 takes place July 21-29 at Marymount University in Arlington, Va.

There’s no lack of ambition for Anighya Crocker.

“It’s the hope to one day in my life be the governor of the state of Tennessee. And if I’m elected governor of the state, then I would like to look at the possibility of pursuing the office of the presidency,” Crocker said.

His experience as president of American Legion Boys Nation 2016 and governor of Tennessee Boys State helped spur that ambition for Crocker of Springfield, Tenn.

“Politics, to an extent, was something I had thought about before Boys Nation,” he said. “I had been on my high school mock trial team, two-time state champion, went to nationals, met Justice (Antonin) Scalia, the works. And I wanted to be involved in that way, I wanted to be a Supreme Court Justice. But going to Boys State and seeing the mantle of the executive, being elected governor there, and then going to Boys Nation, being elected president, having the opportunity to go across the country, shake hands with some of the greatest men and women I have ever known, it’s really changed my whole perception on what I want to do.”

Crocker acknowledged that the Boys Nation experience — “a week that shapes a lifetime” — changed him in a fundamental way.

“The Boys Nation program reshaped my entire inner being. Now that sounds like a really dramatic statement, but if you analyze it pragmatically, it taught me to be more responsible, taught me to be more accountable, taught me to be more honest, and most of all, it taught me that the only way to see fundamental change in my world is to seek fundamental change within myself,” he said. “You see, you get out what you put in: hard work, honesty, good citizenship and a love of country and fellow man is the best and most efficient way to shape your country, and previous to Boys Nation, I thought that the best way to shape policy was by going to the ballot box … running for office is as easy as picking up the paperwork. Anybody can get involved. And while some might say that’s a scary thing, that’s the beauty of this democracy we live in. Anybody can be anything.”

In Crocker’s estimation, the country’s political divide stems from the disingenuous nature of the world’s leaders, and it’s an issue he wants to address.

“The simple truth is, partisanship ends where lives begin. If I can look a constituent in the face and shake his hand and say something that I believe, and that they know I believe, then that means something more than beating on the books and beating on the proverbial chest of the party. And I learned that at Boys Nation.”

Crocker sees the Boys State programs across the country as “channels into this greater pool of patriotism and education and love of country and love of fellow man.”

And as for Boys Nation? “The values you learn are what stuck with me — the independence, the citizenship, the knowledge, the know-how, the resolve, and the sense of community, the sense that all across this nation there are brothers and people that I can stand by and people that I can love and people that I can get to know.

“ … I’ve been humbled, for the rest of my life, by the experience I’ve had this past summer. I think a lot of people think that the things that we do, Boys State, Boys Nation, were only for a week. Well, it’s not. What I experienced there I’ll covet, and I’ll hold for the rest of my life.

“We have a thing that we passed at Boys Nation called the 45th. The 45th was an imaginary bill that we were all tasked with, and it was to go on and live a good life, to work in our communities, to be good citizens, that was the nature of the 45th. And when (vice president) Choteau (Kammel) closed out the senate on the last day, he didn’t strike the final gavel because he said the mission of the Senate lived on. He was exactly right. The mission of the Senate lives on every day. As each of those senators walks around their communities, shakes hands with their friends and their family and works to make this country a better place. I have no doubt that the young men I was with will go on to be senators, representatives, governors, and maybe even president of the United States. And I can tell you, having been around them, that’s a pretty awesome thing.

“The country’s in wonderful hands.”

Crocker is headed to Vanderbilt University where he’ll major in vocal performance with a minor in political science and a concentration in pre-law.

Boys Nation

Boys Nation

At Boys State / Nation, participants learn the rights, privileges and responsibilities of franchised citizens. The training is objective and centers on the structure of city, county and state governments.

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